Ambulance, hospital strike spreads

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Unions representing disgruntled ambulance personnel and some hospital workers pulled more of their members out on strike Monday, after a lack of any progress over the weekend in seeking a settlement.

Union Yrkesorganisasjon Sentralforbund (YS)  said another 146 health care workers, mostly ambulance drivers and other emergency staff, would walk off the job on Monday in addition to the 186 workers who went on strike at selected hospitals around the country last week.

Ingerid Bjercke, negotiations leader for YS Spekter, said there had been no contact between the unions and state health care employers as of Sunday afternoon.

That led the unions to expand their strike for higher pay and benefits. They want the same pay levels achieved by municipal health care workers in their own strike earlier this spring.

With around 330 health care workers on strike at seven hospitals from southern to northern Norway, more patients faced the prospect of seeing operations or treatments postponed.

Monday’s expansion was expected to hit Oslo University Hospital the hardest, with another 80 employees pulled off the job.

Employers’ group Spekter claimed that ambulance staffing was now reaching critically low levels, with some districts lacking adequate preparation. The unions claim, however, there is no danger to life or health, a situation that would allow the state to step in and force both sides back to the bargaining table.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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